I've been reading some interesting conspiracy theories about why some recent Microsoft product launches have missed the boat on targetting features of interest to tech geeks.

In his post Microsoft's lack of action will slow Podcasting Growth Todd Cochrane writes

Well it is pretty obvious that Microsoft did not get Podcasting support built into Windows Media Player 11 and all I can say is that they obviously blew it. I have been debating what to say for a few days. My summation is not fit to print, what I really don't understand is how they could have been so stupid.

They had a opportunity with Windows Media Player 11 to get in the game, I can guarantee that their inaction will slow the growth of podcasting in a big way. But it makes sense Podcasting does not make them any money, if I were a betting man I bet MTV had something to say in the process and likely killed any podcasting integration as it would have made the URGE network a lesser value.

In his post How Internet Explorer Stifles Microsoft Devanshu Mehta writes

Microsoft has chosen the growth of IE over every other division in the company for 10 years now. Windows versions from 95 onwards have suffered enough. Now, the company’s IE-centric view of its business is hurting younger divisions of the company that have a chance of becoming a major force as the company looks to take on Google...It all began when MSN announced their AdCenterGoogle AdWords- sells text-based, contextual, per-click advertising for MSN properties on the internet. Curious, I went to sign up for an account...I was more curious in Microsoft’s method, their design and approach as compared to my experience with AdSense. So I went to the MSN adCenter site and clicked to sign up. service which – similar to

Lo and behold:

Microsoft adCenter does not currently support the web browser you are using. Please sign in using Internet Explorer 6+. More about system requirements
Oh great! Another MS web site that does not work with Firefox. So I click on the phrase system requirements to find out what I would need. Would a Mac user like me have any recourse? Or did MS not want my business? It only got worse. The System requirements link did not work either! Not only could they not design a web site for my browser, they couldn’t even manage to create a link to their requirements page that I could click on!

Unlike Devanshu and Todd, I don't think there are sinister conspiracy theories for why two Microsoft products were released and ignored features of interest to the geek demographic. In every product release, you have a limited amount of resources and time in which to apply those resources to your next version. This means that you tend to focus on features that will provide the most bang for the buck and may ignore features that have limited appeal such as supporting a browser which is used by 8% of the market or a media subscription model is only used by 1% of internet users. I don't always agree with the practice of deciding on features based on market penetration statistics but I can understand when product teams make such decisions. I suspect that is more likely the cause of these omissions than some nefarious collusion between MTV and the Windows Media team or some plot to ensure IE's market dominance by having Windows Live services require only that browser.

Disclaimer: The post above is my own personal opinion and does not reflect the opinions, intentions or strategies of my employer or the Microsoft product teams referenced.